Pathologic complete response in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer following preoperative chemotherapy: implications for the design of future non-small-cell lung cancer combined modality trials.
PURPOSE: This report determines the incidence of pathologic complete response in patients with locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with mitomycin, vinca alkaloid, and high-dose cisplatin (MVP) chemotherapy, and estimates the effect of MVP on survival. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We have identified and reviewed the course of 21 patients with advanced NSCLC who achieved a pathologic complete response following a median of three preoperative MVP combination chemotherapy courses including vinblastine or vindesine, cisplatin (120 mg/m2), and mitomycin (n = 19). RESULTS: All patients had a major objective response following preoperative chemotherapy and nine (43%) had a clinical complete response. Nine patients with pathologic complete responses were among 73 entered on a preoperative chemotherapy program, yielding an incidence estimate of 12% (95% confidence interval, 6% to 22%). The median survival duration for all 21 patients has not been reached. The median follow-up duration is now 68 months (range, 17 to 109). Survival estimates are 90% at 1 year, 62% at 3 years, and 54% at 5 years. Nine patients have relapsed with initial sites of recurrence as follows: brain (n = 5), other systemic sites (n = 3), and locoregional (n = 1). One patient died in the postoperative period. Eleven patients remain disease-free and all have excellent functional status. CONCLUSION: We have observed pathologic complete responses in approximately 12% of advanced NSCLC patients treated with preoperative MVP chemotherapy. These pathologically determined responses were seen only in patients with major objective responses clinically. Pathologic complete response predicts excellent survival and functional level and should be considered a major end point in the evaluation of preoperative chemotherapy programs.